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Gigi, Julie de Carneilha, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels Paperback – October 10, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The paradoxes of great literature are those of human nature, and Colette is nothing if not human . . . Accessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist--these are the qualities of the artist and the woman. Its is time to rediscover them.” ―From the Introduction

“Colette is one of the glories of France.” ―Michael Straight, The New Republic

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374527857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374527853
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Gabrielle Colette died in 1954. She is most famous for writing "Gigi" which became a Broadway musical and Oscar winning film. Gabrielle was a talented, gifted writer, with aesthetic skills and a charming perception of humans, particularily the society she grew up in early twentieth century France. A fascinating woman, she wrote mainly short stories, dealing with women coming of age, older women making new decisions, relationships with intensity, and all of her characters have memorable nuances. She may have drawn from personal experience. Colette was clearly a woman with deep understanding of the nature of love and the course of human emotions.
Gigi is the story of a young woman brought up in a decadent, materialistic society. Her aunts have raised her to become a mistress, a courtesan for the wealthy. Gaston falls for Gigi, and attempts to make her his mistress. But Gigi refuses to be a part of the pretentious society in Paris, wanting an honest and open relationship based on love. In the end, she is granted this for remaining true to herself. Julie de Carneilha and Chance Encounters are striking tales of women in love, beautifully written and set in the opulence of Paris. Colette is a cosmopolitan writer, one can almost see her as she writes with a bottle of champagne on her writing desk, a view of the Eiffel tower from her window and a vivid imagination that takes flight.
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Format: Paperback
I started reading this collection because of the author herself, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, being something of the patron saints of voluptuaries... I felt like I wanted to get to know her better, so I decided the best way would be to read some of her best loved works.

"Gigi", the most popular from this collection, was actually my least favorite in the bunch. It was entertaining and sweet, but much less mature than the other two novellas. The one aspect of it that I loved were the sensory descriptions and I wondered how the original French might be different or the same.

The translation by Richard Senhouse was beautiful, word choices were entrancing.

My favorite selection was "Julie de Carneilhan" as the main character was such an independent spirit and unconventional in the same sense I believe Colette was. It was through this title I really felt like I got to know the author intimately. The writing style favors action with tightly woven descriptive and sensory elements which also tune into Colette's voluptuary leanings.

The introduction to the entire text by Judith Thurman provides a brief mini-biography which provided more details of the author's personal and creative life.
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I bought this book so that I could read Gigi, Colette's most well known writing. It came with three stories, all so utterly different. This book of three novellas was such a delight to read and was like the perfect sampler of Colette's style and charm. Colette really captured the subtleties of human nature, the weaknesses and some of the simple beauties of life. She shows both the sweetness of coming of age, as well as some the more mature lessons one learns, all in a way that makes you smile as you read it.
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Colette is among the few 20th century fiction writers that I enjoy. Her stories are entertaining, her characters unforgettable, and her style lively. Gigi, of occurs, is the winner in this collection, and most readers will already have an idea of what the story is about, for it inspired what I think is one of the three but likely most intelligent and entertaining musicals ever brought to the screen. Also read the book if you want to learn how to pace a story.
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Colette is one of my favorite writers especially since she writes about the belle epoch genre. I loved Vincent Minnelli's film version. That was one of the reasons why I purchased the DVD.
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